Keeping in line with the last post, we will once again be spotlighting a killer tactic for chasing summer time smallmouth. Warm water fly anglers often overlook this tactic, but it is one of the deadliest tactics utilized for summertime smallmouth fishing. I present to you the dry-dropper rig.
In a dumbed down explanation, the rig consists of a floating fly trailed by a sub-surface fly. This tactic is deadly for targeting both the aggressive top feeders, as well as those weary fish that are focusing on forage below the surface. This tactic doubles as your standard nymph tactic, but rather than using a strike indicator, a dry fly is used. This tactic is widely used out west during the grasshopper “hopper” season, and consists of a large dry fly pattern followed by some form of tiny nymph.
During the summer months on the New River, I use this set-up in the same fashion. Throwing a tandem setup I am able to cover both categories of feeding fish. The set-up that I normally throw will consist of a cork popper and a weightless, or lightly weighted crayfish, hellgrammite, or damsel fly pattern. Now, you may ask why do I keep referring to cork poppers, and why wont a foam popper do the trick? Well, a very large foam popper may work just fine, but I have found that large foam poppers are a pain to cast with a trailing fly and they normally cannot support the weight of a trailing crayfish pattern. However, cork has strong natural buoyancy and the dense, cork poppers float like a champ even with a rabbit furred crayfish pattern.
This tactic has proven deadly when fishing along shady banks that are lined with scattered rocks, tail outs of riffles, and along main river grass beds. In all these areas, I am generally looking for depths of 3’-5’ with moderate current. I will normally run the tandem rig on a 12’ leader and usually keep the two patterns 18’’ apart (you run into the problem of tangles if you make it much longer). The popper patterns are generally in the size 4 range, however I will go larger during the early and late parts of the day. Remember to dead drift these patterns. There is no need to chug, twitch, or jerk. Let the current do its job. Keep it tight! WH